St. Patrick’s Day

Today we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. We will celebrate the life of a man who dedicated himself to sharing the Gospel with people who had enslaved him and for the contributions of the Irish to American culture.  As we do so we also watch the news unfold of the wars around the world and the destruction affecting generations from environmental disasters.  It seems like each day we are faced with the decision to forgive those who offend us or to seek revenge.  The Lenten journey is important!

         St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is believed to have died on March 17, 461.  Since the 10th century the Roman Catholic Church has celebrated this saint who was actually not Irish but born a Roman Britain then captured and sold into slavery on a pig farm in Ireland.  He escaped but returned to evangelize Ireland.  He is credited for explaining the Trinity, the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by using a shamrock with three leaves that was native to Ireland.  He is also credited with ridding Ireland of snakes but it is doubtful snakes ever lived in Ireland.

         The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland but in St. Augustine, Florida, March 17, 1601, by a Spanish vicar!  In 1772 English military marched in a parade in New York City to honor the saint.  The tradition has grown since.  How very multicultural the story grows.  According to the Internet the parade is “the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants.”  Wow!

            Today we are challenged to absorb new traditions, foods, and language into our daily lives as our world becomes more international.  Travel abroad is no longer unique and cruises to exotic places are constant.  And so that thought challenges me to ask ourselves if we are “cultural Christians” or do the traditions and expressions of faith by people different from ourselves encourage us to expand our understanding of the greatness of God?  Lent is a time when we reflect on Jesus as more than a healer and teacher, which indeed he was, but we also look at him starting to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven that calls us to allegiance to a God who loves all cultures and created all people.  Even as St. Patrick returned to Ireland to tell his former owners about Christianity, we too today tell others about a kingdom that does not spread by bombing and destruction leaving ruined museums, rubble and death in its path.  Let’s think today of a Christian tradition that means a lot to us and helps us focus on a hopeful future.  And when you see green, thank God for the life he gives to all his creation. Blessings.

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